Presenting to the Design and Innovation Board

Nicola Couchman, Welfare and Reforms Project Officer, shares her experience of developing an idea at our Innovation Event and then presenting it to the ‘friendly dragons’ of our Design and Innovation Board.

One chilly afternoon back in January I was lucky enough to be able to attend a Future Forum meeting where fellow officers and I were the guinea pigs testing out a new format for an Innovation Event. Little did I know that this was the start of something great which has the potential to make a real difference to service design, delivery and outcomes for our residents.

After considering tricky problems in a variety of services and working through creative processes to unlock new ideas and potential solutions, lots of great ideas were generated that afternoon. This included a variety of ideas that warranted further exploration – some big and some small but all with the common purpose of improving outcomes.

But where next? I am sure, like me, you have attended events in the past which inspire you and get the creative ideas flowing, but the enthusiasm quickly passes as there is no way to move things on and secure the time, support and resources you need to progress ideas to the next level.

Well, this is where Bexley’s very own version of the Dragon’s Den comes into play. The Design and Innovation Board is one of the Boards created as part of the new governance arrangements and is the perfect outlet for officers to put their ideas into action. After bringing together a variety of ideas which could improve housing services at the Innovation Event, I was invited to the Board to pitch our ideas  by way of a short presentation.

I must admit I was a little nervous but needn’t have worried as support was on hand from the Transformation and Change team. Pitching to the dragons was nowhere near as daunting as facing the likes of Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden! The Board had a fresh, new feel which really reflected an appetite for doing things differently. It was a very empowering experience and much to my satisfaction the famous words “I’m out” were not mentioned once.

I wasn’t expected to know the answers to everything but was given the freedom to be open and honest about problems that we currently face and was able to throw in a variety of ideas which merit further time, effort and resource to explore in order to make a real difference. And I am pleased to say that if it had been the real Dragons Den, the pitch would have been followed by Evan Davis’ dulcet tones reporting that, along with my fellow pitchers, we were all successful in securing an investment and now have the tools we need to progress our ideas to the next level.

Overall the whole experience was extremely positive and I am now excited to progress the proposals that were supported. To quote Deborah Meaden: “The world is full of people who have come up with spectacular ideas and failed to do anything about them”. The Innovation Events and the Design and Innovation Board are our mechanism to make a difference so I’m encouraging colleagues not to waste the opportunity – you never know where it might lead….

Board Feb 2017

Nicola joins the Design and Innovation Board for a photo following her pitch